116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As the country becomes a patchwork of access to abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, businesses — ranging from small companies to corporate giants — are stepping in to fill the gap for their employees.
Among those companies is Compass Education Group, whose co-founder lives in Iowa City. This past Friday, shortly after the court’s ruling came down, the company that employs about 300 people across 20 states announced it was enacting a policy “to support our employees and contractors in states that are denying women their reproductive freedom.”
“From a very simple perspective, it makes no sense to us that our employees would have wildly different benefits simply based on where they live,” said co-founder Adam Ingersoll of Iowa City. “In addition to a moral obligation, we felt we had a professional obligation from a fairness and equity perspective to remedy that.”
Compass Education Group is a test prep company that provides one-on-one tutoring for the SAT and other standardized tests. As of this past week, the company is offering up to $4,000 in reimbursement for travel expenses if an employee was unable to obtain reproductive health care within 150 miles of home.
Ingersoll said about 10 to 20 percent of its employees live in states that already have or are expected to enact abortion restrictions.
The Supreme Court’s decision last week to remove federal abortion protections opens the doors for states to set their own laws on the procedure, dramatically transforming access to reproductive health across America. Almost immediately, states were enforcing abortion bans, with dozens more expected to enact similar restrictions in the near future.
In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds asked the state Supreme Court this week to lift an injunction on the 2018 “fetal heartbeat” law that essentially enforces an abortion ban at six weeks.
As a result of these restrictions nationwide, millions of Americans seeking abortions could be forced to travel out-of-state to access the procedure. That’s a costly venture that often serves as a barrier to individuals, especially those who are low-income or otherwise struggle to access transportation or child care.
In response, some employers are offering to help. In the past week since the landmark 1973 case was overturned, dozens of big name companies — including Apple, Netflix, Uber and Starbucks — have pledged support and financial assistance for employees and their dependents who seek abortions across state lines.
Dick Sporting Goods announced it will reimburse employees with up to $4,000 if they have to travel for a legally available abortion.
Disney — which employees 195,000 worldwide — announced its “family planning” benefit would be extended to workers who can’t access family planning and other reproductive care where they live.
Compass began preparing its proposal when a draft opinion of the Supreme Court’s decision was leaked to Politico in May, news that was “appalling” to Ingersoll and other company executives, he said.
Maintaining the privacy of employees is a priority, Ingersoll said. Employees seeking travel reimbursement have to notify only a designated female member of leadership for approval, but aren’t required to provide details on the type of care they received. All receipts and other documentation provided to the company will be destroyed, Ingersoll said.
But in doing so, Compass and other corporations are risking customer losses and legal liability.
“We were comforted to see, as we were putting our own plans in place, that we weren’t alone,” Ingersoll said. “These are huge companies with deep pockets and the ability to defend themselves legally more easily than we are able to.”
Texas has threatened some big-name companies with legal repercussions for previously announced travel reimbursement policies aimed at helping employees obtain abortions.
Despite this potential threat, Ingersoll said it was important for his company to provide comfort and tangible support for woman and other individuals seeking reproductive care in this post-Roe era.
But this is not the first time Compass Education Group has weighed in on issues that affect employees’ personal lives. More than once, Ingersoll said, the company has cut ties with school districts or dropped clients who are anti-LGBTQ rights.
“For companies to do what we’re trying to do, it’s difficult and messy, but it tremendously important,” Ingersoll said.
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The Washington Post contributed to this article.